Woodland Park Zoo continues unethical elephant breeding

By Friends of the Woodland Park Zoo Elephants

Woodland Park Zoo (WPZ) artificially inseminated Chai, a female Asian elephant, for the 59th time on December 5, 2011. The previous 58 artificial inseminations over 20 years have all failed to produce a live birth.

Hansa, the only calf born at WPZ, was conceived when Chai was shipped to Missouri to be bred with a bull. Hansa died of Endotheliotropic Herpes Virus (EEHV) which is almost always fatal to young Asian elephants and horrifically painful. The zoo industry's own expert, Dr. Laura Richman, a pathologist with the Smithsonian National Zoo, said that Hansa would have gotten it from one of the zoo's other elephants and that Chai could transmit the virus through the birthing process. There is no cure for EEHV and WPZ has no infection control in place.

Elephants have evolved over 40 million years to become the animal they are today: highly intelligent, highly social, and genetically wired to move great distances. WPZ's elephant display, designed in 1986, is woefully inadequate resulting in the elephants' worsening physical and psychological conditions. The elephants are locked in a 2,500 sq. ft. barn for 16-17 hours every day for about 7 months of the year. Incompatilbility forces one of them to be in solitary confinement. The tiny, 1 acre yard is subdivided into 5 pens in order to keep the incompatible elephants separated.

WPZ claims having a calf aids the conservation of elephants. No calf born at WPZ will ever be released into the wild—the accepted measure of ex-situ wildlife conservation.

Furthermore, if a fraction of the $400,000.00 it costs to keep elephants in Seattle each year was used to fund anti-poaching teams or fund organizations working to control habitat loss, real elephant conservation would be advanced.

Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants continues to appeal to WPZ and the Seattle City Council to allow the elephants retire to the 2,700 acre Elephant Sanctuary in TN; it's a win all the way around:

- Seattle gets out of a law suit.
- WPZ saves about $400,000.000 annually.
- Our children learn a valuable lesson in science and compassion.
- Chai, Bamboo, and Watoto can heal from the traumas of zoo captivity.

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